The Struggle of Love: Greenville County former Postmaster Guilty of Fraud!

Sharon D. Johnson, a writer based in Columbia, South Carolina, and her cohort, Patricia G. Sullivan, the former postmaster of Greenville County, had an idea that was so unethical and so ridiculous that naturally, a lot of good natured folks fell for it. In fact, the two women fleeced nearly $300,000 out of the community. They have pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud. If the judge passes the possible sentence that could be imposed in this case, Ms. Johnson will have plenty of time to write a decent book.  Meanwhile Amazon still has for sale – The Struggle of Love.

The Struggle of Love

Sharon Johnson had a creative idea. The book she published, The Struggle of Love, was not exactly what you would call a New York Times bestseller, but it was good enough to do the trick. Shortly after she self-published it, she and her friend began to tell everyone they knew that movie actor, producer and director had bought the rights. It would be made into either a movie or a reality TV series. Even more incredible, Johnson told everyone that she would star in the series because she was, after all, a big-time author.

Here is where the fantasy met up with the scam. Johnson and Sullivan told some investors the money from the deal was being held up by the Internal Revenue Service or with other investors, that it was delayed for other financial reasons. Naturally the victims were lured with huge returns on their investments. To further prove they were on their way to the top, the crooks posted several pictures of themselves that were posed in front of huge mansions. Finally, to round out the fiction, they produced fake bank statements and fake publisher’s documentation showing the fantastic sales of the book.

The two women took advantage of naïve people who wanted just a small slice of a huge dream.  I guess greed is part of The Struggle of Love – love of money.

All Phony

Hollywood does not work in the way the two crooks made it out to be, and of course Tyler Perry and his highly successful production company would not have operated in the manner that Johnson and Sullivan claimed. While Perry’s comedies bring in a lot of money, there is nothing humorous about this case.

As much of an unethical person as Sharon D. Johnson has proven herself to be, the really unscrupulous person in this case is former postmaster Patricia G. Sullivan. A postmaster should clearly be aware of issues surrounding wire fraud and mail fraud. The law is quite clear on these issues, and it is impossible to believe that Sullivan didn’t know what she was doing. Sullivan had the ability – at any time – to put an end to this nonsense and instead she kept the scam going.

The “why” of it all was not only opportunity but need. The “need” part is easy understand, they needed the money. Maybe Johnson was tired of writing lousy books for a few pennies a copy, and maybe Sullivan had had it up to her neck in being a civil servant with a steady salary and great benefits. They wanted more!  The Struggle of Love is that love of money or more that what you have obtained in an illegal manner creates consequences that they never saw coming.

The opportunity is, for me, very sad. Johnson must have appeared successful with her books, and the mere mention of Tyler Perry being interested in buying the rights was appealing to rather unsophisticated investors. With Sullivan on-board, the project was given an air of legitimacy. After all, people reasoned, she was a postmaster. What she wasn’t, was a postmaster with ethical training. As with so many civil servants, ethics was never seen as important as simply showing up for work, and pounding papers with a rubber stamp.

Ms. Sullivan is in her mid-60s; a 25-year sentence would almost guarantee that she would never see freedom again. It is a shame, but not nearly as sad as the people who lost their savings believing in the scam.  That’s The Struggle of Love – love of the wrong thing.

The greatest piece of fiction Ms. Johnson wrote may very well land her in jail. It is hardly a fairy tale ending.



Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Fraud Pure and Simple and tagged , , , , .

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